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National Storytelling Week: "I absolutely love the creative writing group, we are a family."
Leanne Smith has Friedreich Ataxia, a rare disease which affects the central nervous system. Here, she shares a poem written at our Creative Writing group, which was launched last year by our family support team.
I absolutely love the creative writing group. I was nervous about going to start with, because I don't like talking in a group. But listening to everyone's stories and poems is fascinating, learning about their past and where they've come from. One time we did a memory box and we all brought stuff in and it was so lovely to know what memories stuck with people from their lives. It's just wonderful. It's like we are a family in there.
I used to like writing poems by myself or for my family in cards, and I used to like writing stories. Even though I can't write I have an iPad and my carer can dictate for me.
My poem is based on one written by Robert Seatter called 'I come from'. I thought it's not about where you've lived but it's about WHO you've come from, and my family are very important to me.
'I come from' by Leanne Smith
Where do I come from?
It's a question often asked, and you want to know from birth. This shocks quite a few people, because, yes, I'm from earth!
I was born at Mile End hospital, and this was not in the morn. My nan's electric clock stopped and she said "the baby's born".
My first home was a mouse infested, gas board rental. With rats left by our cat, TC, driving my mum mental!
We lived near the gas board, my sister watching the Goons. Cussing on their way to work, while she made up obscene little tunes.
We had an outside toilet with a fungus breathing bath that spoke! My Nan's was so spotless, mum went there a lot for a soak.
I've no memories of that house, for we were there near 4 years. My mum remembers, with laughter, now, but at the time with tears.
We then got offered a council house, in Essex, in Harold Hill. My mum felt like we'd moved to a holiday home, for me I love it still.
This is my good memory place, the street where we knew each other's names. Playing run outs and skipping, polo, and lots of other great games.
I may have cried, too much, on my first day at school. But I look back at juniors and realise they were the days that rule.
I was still sucking my fingers, head on desk so I couldn't be seen. "Give them up for big school", which I did at, almost, thirteen.
Senior school, the best years?! Don't make me laugh!! "We'll help your youngsters choose the right path!"
My symptoms started showing, so big school was a nightmare. But at least in Harold Hill I was happy at home there.
But mum and dad they wanted to go to pastures a new. School was getting worse and I NEEDED SUE!
But I still had good times, when the school was shut! Coffee by the fireplace after shopping at the hut.
Still I shouldn't moan about my school that really didn't care, 'cos if they check the records, they'll see I was hardly there!
I managed to leave there, in pieces, but alive and new. Got a job, was diagnosed, but I'll survive this too(!?)
Still in Gidea Park, my job not too far from us. I would either walk, but mostly got the bus.
As the disease worsened, and stairs I took very slow, we moved to Hornchurch where I am now, in a bungalow.
Does this answer the question, no, it doesn't, for me. For these are just the places I have lived, you see.
Where do I come from? Of this I am glad. I'm from my (almost) perfect mum and dad.
The most wonderful parents, I've got the best. They've raised me and held me in times of unrest.
It's the constant in my life that never feels wrong. In the arms of my family is where I belong.
My family is there, whatever I go through. I'm very lucky, just don't tell them I told you!
The creative writing group in action, led by hospice counsellor Sue Spong.